An elderly Catholic nun in her 70s in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal has been gang-raped by a group of robbers when she tried to stop them from robbing a Christian missionary school.
Three to four of eight robbers sexually assaulted the septuagenarian at the Convent of Jesus and Mary School in West Bengal state’s Nadia district. She was admitted in a hospital in serious condition after the attack.
A school official said the robbers broke into the school after midnight after they overpowered and tied the security guards with ropes. The men entered a room where nuns were sleeping. They took the victim to another room where they raped her after she attempted to block their way.
The robbers escaped with cash, a mobile phone, a laptop computer and a camera, all belonging to the school, the school official said. The men also ransacked the school’s chapel and took with them some holy items.
“It is a very, very shameful act, first of all, to rape any woman, any female. But this one becomes even worse because, first of all, she is an old lady and then on top of it, she is a nun. She is a religious and has consecrated her life to God and all her life she has remained a virgin,” Father Dominic Emmanuel said.
A number of irate students, their parents and teachers took to the streets to protest. They blocked a major road and a railroad station while demanding that police find and arrest the culprits.
The attack is the latest incident to focus attention on the scourge of sexual violence in India. Over the past 40 years, rape cases in India have jumped almost 975% from 2,487 in 1971 to 24,206 in 2011. However, many believe rape incidents are under-reported because of stigma. Lack of law enforcement in rural areas and widespread poverty are two of the causes of the high number of sexual assault cases, experts say.
Last week Delhi police went to a lower court to prevent the broadcast of rape documentary India’s Daughter by an Indian TV station on International Women’s Day.
Last year, a series of rape cases involving students and foreign tourists have hurt India’s international reputation prompting the country’s lawmakers to introduce tougher laws and punishments for sexual crimes. Despite the new laws, India continues to see episodes of sexual violence.